In this lecture, Professor Paul Fry explores the works of major Russian formalists reviewed in an essay by Boris Eikhenbaum. He begins by distinguishing Russian formalism from hermeneutics. Eikhenbaum's dependency on core ideas of Marxist and Darwinian philosophies of struggle and evolution is explained. Formalism's scientific language and methodical aspirations are discussed. Crucial formalist distinctions between plot and story, practical and poetic language, and literature and literariness are clarified.
Eikhenbaum, Boris. "The Theory of the 'Formal Method.'" In Russian Formalist Criticism: Four Essays. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1965, pp. 99-141
Brooks, Cleanth. "Irony as a Principle of Structure." In The Critical Tradition, pp. 799-806
In this course, Prof. Paul H. Fry gives 26 video lectures on Theory of Literature. This is a survey of the main trends in twentieth-century literary theory. Lectures will provide background for the readings and explicate them where appropriate, while attempting to develop a coherent overall context that incorporates philosophical and social perspectives on the recurrent questions: what is literature, how is it produced, how can it be understood, and what is its purpose?